Survey: Publishers Bet On Sponsorships Over Banners For Mobile Ad Revenue

Publishers are looking to a variety of revenue streams to support their expanding mobile efforts, but the expectations that sponsorships being the most likely way to bring in money, according to an online survey taken by the Audit Bureau of Circulations this summer.

The ABC (NYSE: DIS) invited a sample base of 3,830 with a total of 336 “qualified people” completed the survey. A small group, no doubt, but it does offer a clue as to what newspaper, consumer magazines and business publications might be thinking of when it comes to mobile, as pretty much even major content company has introduced some sort of mobile app this past year.

About 28 percent of the respondents expect sponsorships to drive ad revenue, followed by 22 percent who think search will capture ad dollars. About 21 percent pointed to video, while 19 percent think banner ads will be where the money goes. About 7 percent voted for pop-up ads.

Publishers are clear in saying that they don’t just want to rely on ad support when it comes to mobile content. But the survey results suggest that they’re not necessarily starting out that way.

Since mobile apps began taking off, a number of prominent publishers said that they regarded this as chance to charge for access, something that has so far proved difficult for the PC-based web publications. All of ABC’s publisher members are experimenting with charging for mobile content, the organization said. But not too many are actively doing so. Right now, 43 percent of consumer magazines said they currently charge for mobile apps, followed by 39 percent of business publications and 21 percent of newspapers.

Other highlights from the report:

— In last year’s ABC survey, 70 percent said mobile was receiving more attention at their publication; this year the number increased to 87 percent. Sixty-five percent believe that digital delivery of their publication is important to their strategic future, up from 55 percent last year.

— Most publishers dismissed that frequently predicted notion that many print pubs will go online-only in five years. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said no when asked if their publications would be delivered in a digital-only format within the next five years.

— In another sign of how quickly minds of have changed in just the past 12 months, last year ABC said that 42 percent of the people it surveyed believed that e-readers would become vital distribution channels for their publication. This year, that number jumped to 63 percent.

— In terms of who is having the most impact on the e-reader market, 86 percent said Apple was dominant, followed by Google/Android (making a strong debut in second with 59 percent), and then (NSDQ: AMZN) (52 percent), Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) (25 percent), Sony (NYSE: SNE) (22 percent), Hearst (11 percent), FirstPaper (3 percent) WeTab (1 percent) and other (3 percent).

— While Apple is out in front when it comes to apps, that’s not to say that publishers are happy with what the company is providing. Only 11 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the analytics and subscriber information they receive from Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). Only 19 percent said they were satisfied with Apple’s app business model. The full report can be downloaded for free here (PDF).